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Council of Europe Issues Recommendations on Palestinian Refugees

Written by  BADIL Staff

 In June 2003 the Council of Europe (CoE), an intergovernmental body comprised of members of individual European parliaments, issued a number of recommendations concerning international protection and durable solutions for Palestinian refugees. The recommendations were issued in the aftermath of a hearing on the status of Palestinian refugees in Europe held earlier in the year in Budapest and a special report prepared by the Council's Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography (Doc. 9808, 15 May 2003) on the conditions in which the Palestinian refugees stay irrespective of the place.

  International Protection

  In the area of international protection the recommendations (Parliamentary Resolution 1338, 25 June 2003) contain a number of positive developments. The Council recognized that Palestinian refugees outside the region are at a clear disadvantage and must therefore be given a recognized legal status. Accordingly, the Assembly recommended that the Committee of Ministers calls on Council of Europe members states to review their policies in respect of Palestinian asylum seekers, with a view to effectively implementing United Nations High Commission for Refugees' (UNHCR) new guidelines published in 2002 on the applicability of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees with a view to recommending harmonization, Council of Europe member states' policies in this respect. (See al-Majdal, Issue 16-17, March 2003)

 The Assembly also recommended that the Committee of Ministers instruct the appropriate committee to examine the issues relating to the legal status of Palestinian refugees in Council of Europe member states, and come up with concrete initiatives to ensure that all Palestinian persons displaced from their homes or origin are provided with an appropriate legal status; call upon member states to ensure that where Palestinian refugees are legally recognized, they should be entitled to all benefits of socio-economic rights, including family reunion, normally accorded to recognized refugees in these member states; initiate the organization of an international conference devoted entirely to the question of Palestinian refugees; and recommend that member states include information on Palestinian origin in statistics concerning asylum seekers and refugees.
 he recommendations are consistent with recommendations submitted by BADIL to the Committee at its hearings earlier in the year in Budapest. (See al-Majdal, Issue 16-17, March 2003)
 
Durable Solutions
 At the same time, however, the Committee recommendations on durable solutions for Palestinian refugees remain largely unchanged from earlier recommendations issued in 1998 (Parliamentary Resolution 1156). This resolution called for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue largely through resettlement and the creation of a Palestine Refugee and Displaced Persons Final Status Fund. Resolution 1338 (2003) essentially repeats this framework.
 
 Update on Bedouin in the Naqab
 
- On the 1 July 2003, the Israeli National Unit of Building Observation delivered 150 warning notices to the homes of Bedouin citizens stating that the citizens are living in illegal buildings built on land owned by the state. The notices will affect at least 1,500 people, who are living in the unrecognised villages of al-Dahiya, al-Misaadiya, and ‘Ateir. Both al-Dahiya and al-Misaadiya are villages that have existed since before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, but which the state does not recgonise. ‘Ateir is a village created by the state in 1956 when its inhabitants were internally transferred from their original land west of Rahat. This is the first time that the state has accused its citizens in the Negev of living on land that does not belong to them. Usually, the accusation has been of unlicensed building.
 
- On 15 July 2003 Israeli police, the Green Patrol and Border Police, accompanied by the National Unit of Building Observation demolished shops and houses in the villages of al-Sa'dia (3 homes), al-Bohara (2 shops), and al-Za'rora (attempted demolition of a shop). The latter was unsuccessful as the owner of the shop had a court order.
 
- On the 11 August 2003 Israeli authorities demolished 10 homes in the unrecognized villages of Wadi Ggwain, Sa'wa and Qatamat. Qatamat was announced on May 2000 a military fairing zone.  
 
Ongoing attacks on the indigenous Bedouin of the Naqab are part of a larger Israeli plan crafted by Ariel Sharon to remove the remaining Bedouin living in unrecognized villages and extinguish all Bedouin land claims.
 
For more information see the website of the Regional Council for the Palestinian Bedouin of the Unrecognized Villages: http://www.arabhra.org/rcuv/index.htm
 
The Council notes that "Although the establishment of a viable Palestinian state would largely contribute to the durable solution of the question of refugees, the situation of the latter, being both a political and a humanitarian problem, should not be delayed until the political settlement of the Middle East conflict." "The Assembly recognizes that there is a new reality in the Middle East since the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 which created the refugee problems. It calls on all parties involved in these problems to negotiate and achieve a just settlement based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967)."
 
Unlike the 1998 resolution and the May 2003 report, however, Resolution 1338 drops all reference to UN General Assembly Resolution 194, the preeminent resolution concerning durable solutions for the majority of Palestinian refugees. According to the May 2003 report, "The Assembly recognizes the validity of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948) referring to the right of refugees to return or to get compensation. However, 50 years after its adoption and in view of the historical and political developments in the region, it should be implemented with all necessary flexibility."
 
This framework is inconsistent international law concerning durable solutions for refugees, relevant resolutions to the Palestinian case, and policy and practice of the CoE in other refugee cases, including, in particular, the case of refugees from the former Yugoslavia. Oddly, while the CoE recognizes the importance of international law concerning international protection of Palestinian refugees, it fails to do so concerning durable solutions, opting for a purely political approach without regard for the rights of the refugees.
 
The resolution also calls upon member states to contribute to the international debate on durable solutions offered to the Palestinian refugees, and encourage as well as commission political and academic research and studies concerning refugee problems and compensations. In a more positive vein, Resolution 1338 affirms that UNRWA services must be fully maintained until a permanent solution is found. It also calls upon the international community to step up its voluntary financial contribution to the budget of UNRWA with a view to at least allowing it to reflect the natural growth of the Palestinian refugee population being assisted. 
Attacks on Camps
 
Attacks on refugee camps and refugee-populated areas violate international humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law. In order to continue to bring attention to the ongoing Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee camps in the 1967 occupied territories and the urgent need for international protection, BADIL has prepared a short summary of attacks on refugee camps. The table covers the period 1 July – 30 September 2003. The information is based on reported cases.
Date
Place
Description
7 July
Rafah RC (Block J)
Houses leveled, 1 injured
10 July
Rafah RC (Block J)
House destroyed, 1 injured
16 July
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes, 1 injured
29 July
Rafah RC (Block J)
Military fires on children
2 August
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes
4 August
Balata RC
Military fires on homes, 1 injured
4 August
Rafah RC (Block J)
Military firse on homes
8 August
Askar RC
4 killed, apartment building destroyed, 6 injured
10 August
Khan Younis RC
Military firse on homes
14 August
Rafah RC (Block L)
Home demolished
14 August
Jenin RC
Home damaged
15 August
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on home, home damaged, 1 child injured
18 August
Al-Fawar RC
1 injured
20 August
Tulkarem RC
5 wounded, 1 child killed
21 August
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes, 1 injured
21 August
Jenin RC
 
22 August
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes
23 August
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes, 1 injured
24 August
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes
25 August
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes, 1 child injured
26 August
Khan Younis RC
Military firse on homes
28 August
Jenin RC
Military fires on homes, 2 children injured
29 August
Jenin RC
Military fires on homes
30 August
Balata RC
Military fires on children, 5 injured
31 August
Balata RC
Military firse on home, 2 children injured
6 September
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes
6 September
Rafah RC (Block O)
Military fires on homes, 1 child injured
7 September
Rafah RC
Home damaged
7 September
Khan Younis RC (Block H)
9 homes damaged, 8 injured, including 1 child
8 September
Tulkarem RC
Military fires on homes, 1 injured
10 September
Al-Brazil, Rafah RC
2 injured
10 September
Rafah RC
3 injured
10 September
Balata RC
2 killed, 2 injured
10 September
Khan Younis RC
Military fires on homes, 1 injured
11 September
Rafah RC (Block L)
16 homes demolished
11 September
Khan Younis RC
1 injured
14 September
Rafah RC (Block J)
8 homes partially demolished
15 September
Rafah RC (Block K)
13 homes destroyed and damaged
16 September
Khan Younis RC

 

BADIL Staff

BADIL Staff

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights is an independent, community-based non-profit organization mandated to defend and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees and IDPs. Our vision, missions, programs and relationships are defined by our Palestinian identity and the principles of international law, in particular international human rights law. We seek to advance the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people on this basis.